A Wonderful Place to Live
The City of Troy, Alabama, offers visitors the charm of a small town along with a stimulating urban environment. Troy has a beautiful and vibrant downtown square filled with restaurants, antique shops, and local museums. As the county seat of Pike County, Troy offers its residents and visitors beautiful parks, quaint streets, Victorian homes, and historic sites. Area shopping and progressive businesses are found here as well.
In order to provide fast and reliable network connectivity for 70 locations, including their nationally-recognized parks and recreation programs and facilities, innovative and creative Colley Senior Complex, and outstanding Troy Public Library, the City of Troy decided to standardize their switching platform with Extreme Networks.
Small Town Charm, Big City Network
While the City of Troy may o er up plenty of small town charm, take it from their network administrator, Jason Bell – this city network is anything but small. Covering 100,000 square feet and providing network connectivity for 70 locations, over 400 employees and 10,000+ wired and wireless devices – everything from BYOD, public computers, IP cameras, IP phone system, utility meters, security systems, fire alarms, wireless APs and more – it comes as no surprise that network reliability was a top concern.
When Bell started managing the network about eight years ago, he inherited what he calls a ‘mutt network’. “One of the biggest challenges was getting used to the switches; we had switches from more than six vendors and every switch had a different interface that I had to learn,” says Bell.
In order to simplify things and pave the way for future growth, Bell wanted to standardize the network with one switching vendor. He hoped this would make the vast city network easier for his under-staffed IT team to manage while improving security, reliability and application delivery to city employees, residents and visitors.
Standardizing on the Best
The switches in the original city network were from vendors including Juniper, Cisco, Netgear, SMC, Intellinet, and Extreme. After getting familiar with all of the different switches on the network, Troy decided to go with Extreme for all of their switching needs. According to Bell, “I wanted one interface to work with; the one that was the best. The raw power and reliability of the Extreme switches drove the decision to standardize with Extreme. Extreme was simply the best compared to the rest.”
As the switch replacement began, Bell was reassured that he had made the right decision in going with Extreme. “Extreme blew Juniper away when replaced as our server backbone. The Extreme switches were incredibly fast and would react more than twice as quickly even though the bandwidth had remained the same.” The difference wasn’t just noticed by Bell, city employees also commented to the IT team that their documents and programs were opening faster. “It was a very clear and noticeable difference,” says Bell, “The solution helps our employees respond faster and access work resources quicker. Downtime is now a non-issue allowing our employees to work more efficiently.”
It took about six years to swap out everything that wasn’t Extreme. The city network has now been running smoothly on all Extreme switches for the past two years and has grown from 30 switches in 20 locations to over 100 switches in 70 locations. “The Extreme switches operate flawlessly and pick up the load where other vendors can’t,” says Bell.
Ring Around the Network
Many benefits have come with Troy’s decision to standardize on Extreme, but one of the biggest has been redundancy, which is especially important for the police department and their 911 operations. Before installing Extreme, the police department 911 operations used to rely on modems and back tunnels to connect to the city. The City of Troy created a 10Gig ring around the city which has simplified the set up and helps integrate employees such as police officers, firefighters and EMS to directly connect to the network for complete redundancy. “This solution has saved us a lot of money over any other solution we looked at because you have to have your data stored and backed up. Not only are we doing this, and doing it cheaper, but we’re doing it in real time with the 10Gig ring,” said Bell.
The 24×7 GTAC support provided by Extreme has been great for the City of Troy’s IT department who often need to do work, such as network maintenance, at night. Bell says the support provided by Extreme is “unparalleled” and his solutions engineer is always there whenever his assistance is needed.
The Extreme switches, with their easy-to-use management interface, have made it possible for the city to recently upgrade to remote water meter and electric meters. If a customer isn’t paying their bills, the city can cut o their lights right from the office. The City of Troy plans to continue to expand their network and the next biggest project will be adding cameras around the city. More distant future plans include moving to SDN and adding analytics.
While standardizing the network has simplified things for the IT staff and brought time and cost savings to the City of Troy, for employees, residents and visitors who are connecting to the network in coffee shops, behind the desktop, at the library, in the park or as they stroll down the quaint streets of Troy, it’s business and life as usual…And that is the definition of complete success.